Fans of what might be called the "Indiana Jones" genre of fiction will be thrilled with Secr...moreSECRET OF THE SANDS has BLOCKBUSTER written all over it!
Fans of what might be called the "Indiana Jones" genre of fiction will be thrilled with Secret Of The Sands. Like a race horse on steroids it blasts out of the gate in the opening prologue and doesn't stop running until it reaches the finish line.
This remarkably well-conceived and well-executed first-time novel by Rai Aren and her co-author, Tavius E. is loaded with adventure, prophecy, mystery, secrets, deception, epic-scale battles, romance, good guys, bad guys, liers, cheaters, scoundrels, and, of course, heroes.
The action in the story alternates back-and-forth between ancient Egypt and modern-day Egypt. The transitions between time lines are virtually seamless and, rather than interrupting the flow of the story, this plot device actually enhances the flow and moves the story along in a refreshing way.
The two modern-day archaeologists, Alexandria and Mitch, are working on a dig near the Great Sphinx when Alexandria stumbles (literally) onto a mystery that will change their lives, and possibly the future of the world, forever.
The well-paced, descriptive, narrative draws the reader into the quest, along with Alex and Mitch, as they unravel the clues to this mystery, the origin of which goes back 10,000 years into the pre-history of Egypt. This is where we are introduced to a complete society unknown to the pages of modern history, a Royal Family, a King with a dream and a secret that could unleash a power of unimaginable consequences.
Throughout the book the authors skillfully break from the modern-day action, transport the reader back into the ancient past, and totally immerse the reader into the multifaceted and intriguing back-story of that mysterious royal family and the events that ultimately created the mystery that Alex and Mitch are desperately trying to unravel in the present.
Secret Of The Sands is a thrill-ride, complete with humorous interludes, and ends with a set-up for a sequel. This reviewer is chomping at the bit, waiting for that sequel to be released. In the meantime I'll have to settle for reading Secret of the Sands one more time just because it was so much fun.
Disney/Pixar, Spielberg, Lucas please take note. Secret Of The Sands has BLOCKBUSTER written all over it. ------------------------------------
Reviewed by Gary Val Tenuta Author of Ash: Return Of The Beast - A modern-day supernatural serial killer chiller, steeped in the occult and inspired by the unexplained 1947 disappearance of the urn containing the ashes of Aleister Crowley, the notorious occultist who referred to himsself as "The Beast" and whom the British press once labeled as "The Wickedest Man In The World".
Lila Pinord's suspense/thriller, Min's Monster, is definitely a page turner. I planned to start reading it this afternoon,...more"A Page Turning Chill Ride!"
Lila Pinord's suspense/thriller, Min's Monster, is definitely a page turner. I planned to start reading it this afternoon, figuring I'd probably finish it tomorrow because I had other things I needed to get done today. Wrong! Once I was into the story there was no way I was going to put it down before I found out what happened in the end.
This is the second novel by Pinord that I've had the pleasure of experiencing. I say "experiencing" rather than just "reading" because that's the way I feel when I jump into one of her books. It reminds me of hopping into one of the cars on a track at a Disneyland thrill ride and you just hold on for the duration of the ride, never quite knowing for sure what's coming around the next bend.
As with Pinord's other novel, Skye Dancer, she has once again drawn from her own Native American background adding just enough slices of that culture's tradition and folklore to add a unique, underlying, "mystical" dimension to the story. In doing so I believe Pinord is not only helping to keep the Native American culture from vanishing but she is bringing intriguing elements of it into the world of readers outside of that culture.
Also in keeping with Skye Dancer, her other suspense/thriller, Pinord has created yet another disturbingly creepy villain to terrorize the victim. This time the villain is a maniacal, seriously deranged serial killer recently escaped from a minimum security prison located near a coastal fishing village in Washington State. The victim is an innocent 12-year-old Native American girl named Min Wills who lives in the village.
It's sometime in the 1950s. It's the day before Thanksgiving. Min's family decides to make the 100-mile trip into the city to do some pre-Thanksgiving shopping. Min, however, decides to stay home alone. We know right away, this can't be good. A light snow begins to fall but soon evolves into a full-blown, wind-howling, snow storm. Again, not a good sign. Meanwhile, a serial killer - a huge monster of a man - is making his escape, tramping through the forests and heading straight for the village. The wind is beginning to howl, it's freezing cold outside, and you know things can only get worse from this point on. Think about it. You're 12 years old. You're home alone. Your house is relatively isolated from the others in the village. Your family is a hundred miles away. A snow storm is getting so bad it will soon make the roads impossible to navigate. A deranged serial killer - so brutal that he cut out his mother's tongue - is on the loose and is approaching the village. Worse yet, it's nearly nightfall. If this isn't a set-up for a terrifying nightmare, I don't know what is.
You might want to put on a heavy, winter coat when you read Min's Monster because if the blustering cold from the wind and snow that Pinord manages to sustain throughout the pages doesn't get you then the spine-tingling chill of the night chase through the dark woods - to an uncertain end - most assuredly will.
*********************************************************** Reviewed by Gary Val Tenuta Author of Ash: Return Of The Beast - A modern-day supernatural serial killer chiller, steeped in the occult and inspired by the unexplained 1947 disappearance of the urn containing the ashes of Aleister Crowley, the notorious occultist who referred to himsself as "The Beast" and whom the British press once labeled as "The Wickedest Man In The World".
Hold on to your seat and make sure it's a comfortable seat because once you start...moreHonor Due By D. H. Brown
Fast Paced, Gripping, And As Real As It Gets!
Hold on to your seat and make sure it's a comfortable seat because once you start reading this fast-paced, gripping tale of mystery, suspense and revenge you won't want to get up until you've read the last word.
Some 30-plus years after the Vietnam war has ended one ex-special forces vet, "the Major", finds some unpleasant remnant of that war has returned and is waiting in the shadows of his personal, backwoods retreat and is about to strike. But why? Who are they? What do they want?
D. H. Brown writes with the confidence of a man who has "been there and done that". A brief excerpt from late in the book is but one example: _________________________________________________
As quick as I was, before the charge hit him, his combat trained reflexes had brought the M4 around in an arc sending a short silenced burst just over my head. I was already throwing myself forward to his left when he went down. The initial spasm locked his trigger finger, emptying the magazine into the air and off to my rear.
I was already swarming him when the soft clinking of the suppressed assault rifle stopped. Bits of matter from the dense canopy of the forest began floating down. It was another hurried thirty count of effort to tie him up like a roped calf. No tape or sedative this time. I wanted some answers.
The woods had gone silent. The worse predators on earth were arguing.
The writing, the actual execution of the story, is not only impressive for a first-time novelist, it stands up to that of many seasoned novelists whose works are found on the best seller lists. The characters are so vivid you can see them clearly in your mind's eye. Hell, even the dog in the story has a personality. The main character, the Major, seemed so real, in so many ways, I couldn't help but wonder if he wasn't actually based on the author, D.H. Brown, himself.
Several adjectives come immediately to mind when I think back on my reading experience with Honor Due: gritty, haunting, suspenseful, and immensely satisfying are at the top of the list.
You want to curl up with a good, gritty, suspense-filled mystery in which the characters are real, living, breathing, dying, crying, laughing, hopeless, hopeful, flesh and blood people? Oh, and a big black dog as faithful and smart as they come? Then I sincerely recommend D. H. Brown's Honor Due.
An exhilarating ride! A thrilling page turner! Move over, Dan Brown. John C. Stipa's in town!
John C. Stipa's debut novel, "No Greater Sacrifice" is in...moreAn exhilarating ride! A thrilling page turner! Move over, Dan Brown. John C. Stipa's in town!
John C. Stipa's debut novel, "No Greater Sacrifice" is in the genre of Dan Brown's "The DaVinci Code", "Angels & Demons" and "The Lost Symbol" but is totally original in concept and plot and takes no back seat to any of them. This thing rocks! Take the elements that made those stories so wildly popular, mix them with all of the elements that thrilled fans of the Indiana Jones adventures and you get the tremendously satisfying thrill ride called "No Greater Sacrifice" by John C. Stipa.
This book is a top-notch, exhilarating and (dare I say?) "brilliant" page-turner that kept me up until the wee hours several nights in a row. The plot is complex and deftly crafted. The twists and turns come at a furious pace. The two main characters (charming, ex-helicopter pilot, David Arturo and the sexy, adventurous archaeologist Renée d'Arcadia) have genuine emotional depth. The mystery they're confronted with is a real puzzler steeped in ancient mythology and esoteric lore. The narrative moves along at a quick pace. The action scenes explode across the page with tremendous descriptive power. The writing is impeccable. The final quarter of the book is hold-on-to-your-seat stuff and the ending is worth every minute it took to get there. Have I left anything out? Did I mention this thing rocks? Strap yourself in and hang on. You're in for a terrific ride.
Charming! Witty! Intelligent! A Mystery with History! Fit For The Twilight Zone!
I'm a big fan of the TV series, This Old House, a show in which old ho...moreCharming! Witty! Intelligent! A Mystery with History! Fit For The Twilight Zone!
I'm a big fan of the TV series, This Old House, a show in which old houses are restored and made fit for modern living. If I had the money and the time I would love to buy and restore an old Victorian home. But if I ever do--and I find out that the previous owners had replaced the original front door with a new one and stored the original door down in the basement--I'll think twice about removing the newer door reinstalling the original one. Why? Because doing so just might open the door (pardon the pun) to the kind of mystery that befalls the Murphy family in Robert Kerr's novel, Completely Restored. While it was a delight to read I'm not so sure I'd actually be up for such an adventure. Imagine this:
It's summer, 2009. You've finally finished restoring the old Victorian fixer-upper you purchased two years ago--including that last step: reinstalling the original front door. The entire restoration has been a huge, life-consuming project. You go to sleep that night thinking, "Ah, it's done! Now we can just sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor and life can finally get back to normal." You wake up in the morning, stumble down the stairs to retrieve the morning paper. You step outside, still a bit groggy, bend over to pick up the paper and in the back of your mind you seem to think you're hearing the faint sound of horse's hooves on pavement. But, of course, that's silly so you ignore it. A good cup of hot coffee will wake you up as soon as you get back into the house. Then comes the sound of horses hooves again. You look up. A horse-drawn milk wagon approaches.
"Morning!" the driver says. "How many today?" "How many what?" you ask, thinking it must be some sort of a practical joke. "How many bottles of milk?" he answers. "None! We switched to soy!" you reply with satisfaction, knowing you got the last word in this practical joke.
The driver shrugs you off with a curious look and continues on down the street. You pick up the paper and start to walk back into the house when you stop. Wait. What? It suddenly dawns on you that something else is wrong. You turn toward the street. All the trees are smaller, much smaller, than they were yesterday. A couple more horse-drawn vehicles rattle on down the street. A vacant lot now sits where the school building should be. You glance down at the newspaper you're still holding in your hand. You stare at the date. It's 1909.
And thus, it begins. The Murphy family (Mom, Dad, two daughters, one of the daughters is a teenager, a son, and a dog) find themselves inexplicably locked into an era they can barely imagine. How did it happen? How can they get back to their own time? Or can they? And equally perplexing is the question of "why?". Is there some ultimate purpose behind this mystery? Or is it merely some weird accident of nature? What's going on here?
Enter Silas Fischer, the kindly old doctor who lives next door. I loved this character. He reminds me very much of the character, Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, played by Burt Lancaster in the great baseball movie, Field of Dreams (Widescreen Collector's Edition). Is it just coincidence that both "Field of Dreams" and Completely Restored are set in Iowa? Is it just a coincidence that Dr. Fischer loves to bet on baseball games? In any case, it turns out that Dr. Fischer just might be the key to the question of why this is all happening to the Murphys.
As the story unfolds, the Murphys (and you, the reader) are introduced to life in the early part of the 20th century. Oh, what a difference a hundred years can make. No video games. No shopping malls. No TV! Oh my! What's a teenager to do? And of course, when just the mention of any of these things slips out once in a while it can raise eyebrows. It can also result in a bit of comic relief as when Dr. Silas Fischer questions Mr. and Mrs. Murphy about some things that just don't seem to add up. How is it that they just seemed to show up one day, out of the blue?
-------------------------------------------------------------------- "Joe, what's your deal? Are you grifters? Did you just come here looking for some free room? I don't get it! I mean you have a very nice family and, well, to tell the truth, I can't think of a thing either of you have ever done or said to make me not trust you. But it just doesn't add up. And the things Sammy says that make no sense..."
"Silas," I interjected, "she's a five year old! They don't always make sense!"
"Things like what?" Linda asked.
"Well, like the other day, when I was reading her one of her books and she said she was tired and wanted to go upstairs and watch TV. Who the hell is TV?" --------------------------------------------------------------------
As the story of the Murphys strange journey continues to unfold and they begin to settle into this life out-of-time, things begin to turn darker and more mysterious. Linda, the mother, becomes ill. Is she pregnant? And if so, what would be the consequences of a woman from 2009 giving birth to a child in 1909? And what will Dr. Fischer's role be in this situation? In fact, what is the role of Dr. Fishcer in this entire predicament in which the Murphys now find themselves?
As the year 1909 passes into the year 1910 the Murphys still have no answers. Then, one day, up in the attic of their home, Mr. Murphy discovers a wad of newspaper crammed into a crack between the wood. Part of the headline seems to indicate something about a train wreck that occurs in their town in 1910. The torn paper includes a list of the passengers who were killed in the wreck. The plot thickens and suddenly time is of the essence and the Murphys are confronted with the old question: What happens to the future if you change something in the past?
History, mystery and time travel combine to make Completely Restored into a charming, witty, and intelligently crafted tale of "what if...?". I thoroughly enjoyed this book. At just over 200 pages, it's a relatively quick read that moves along at a comfortably brisk pace. If you like time-travel mysteries and if you're a fan of the kind of situation that you can imagine in an episode of The Twilight Zone, then Completely Restored should be right up your alley. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: I would rate the book as PG-13 due only to one instance of the "F-word" that appears in an emotional burst of exclamation.
Review by Gary Val Tenuta Author of The Ezekiel Code (less)
The first half of Descendent sucked me in from the get-go even though, after the first few chapters, I was not quite sure where the story was going. S...more The first half of Descendent sucked me in from the get-go even though, after the first few chapters, I was not quite sure where the story was going. Still, I was captivated. This was due in large part to two things: (1) Freeman's writing style and (2) the characters: The enigmatic Dr. Landon Connors and the FBI agents, Martin Crowe and Selina Wolfe. I recognized, immediately, that my imagination and my thirst for an adventure was now in the hands of a writer fully confident in his craft and completely in control of where ever he was about to take me. And, damn, can this guy turn a phrase. Bob Freeman is a hell of a wordsmith. One note of warning to readers, however: if you're not at least moderately versed in esoteric lore and occult literature or even just words that were more or less common language back in the middle ages, you may find yourself puzzling over certain words and phrases peppered throughout the story. This is quite clearly Freeman's realm, his comfort zone. He knows this stuff up one side and down the other and he doesn't think twice about dropping terms like "eldrich power", "widdershins", "preternatural", "magickal working', "homunculus", and so on, into the dialog or the descriptive passages. Not that it really matters. Trust me. Freeman's writing is so good you'll "get it" even if you don't exactly know the meaning of a word here and there.
The primary characters, agents Wolfe and Crowe, are colorful, smart, emotionally driven, wise-cracking, resourceful, tough and just plain fun to watch. Er, I mean to read. Well, that's just the thing. I always had the impression that I was actually seeing them, like watching a movie. Man, I love these two characters! They each have very distinct personalities that play off each other extremely well. If this was a movie, I'd have to say the casting was perfect. Wolfe and Crowe have a terrific chemistry going on.
And monsters? Your want monsters? Demons? Creepy, dangerous, hideous, shape-shifting creatures from Hell that will delight in ripping your beating heart out of your chest and then devour it like sucking down a slimy delicacy and then go looking for seconds? Then watch out. You've come to the right place. They're everywhere, in the woods, in the shadows of back alleys. Hell, they could be your neighbors. Like I said, they're everywhere. And that's the problem. That's what Wolfe and Crowe are all about. They're demon hunters and they carry big guns, not to mention an assortment of magickal weaponry, bewitching spells and some pretty nifty psychic wizardry that comes in handy when the final showdown explodes across the pages of this exciting, masterfully written and highly intelligent thriller.(less)
You've heard the old saying, "I don't know much about art but I know what I like"? Well, I know a lot about art but I don't know a lot about vampires....moreYou've heard the old saying, "I don't know much about art but I know what I like"? Well, I know a lot about art but I don't know a lot about vampires. I just never really got into the whole vampire thing. But... I know what I like. And I liked V-Day. In fact, I liked it a lot.
When I realized it was a vampire story I was expecting to be smothered in typical melodramatic prose and a reading experience in which I'd have to force myself to suspend my disbelief in order to get into the story. To my surprise, there was a complete lack of melodrama and I found myself immediately drawn into the story by the casual tone of the first-person narration accompanied by the slightly snarky, often self deprecating humor – all of which somehow established a sense "reality" to this short tale.
The story is told through the eyes of Antaeus Keppocke. Antaeus isn't a vampire from the pages of a novel and he doesn't sparkle. He's a real vampire. In fact, he's a vampire with aspirations of being a writer and he would like to actually author a book about vampires. Why? Well, I'll leave that to you to find out. You'll find out a lot of things you didn't know about vampires. Why didn't you know these things? Because, as Antaeus explains, you only know what you read in those novels which, of course, are nothing more than works of fiction.
In spite of a lack of anything that could be called tense drama, I found V-Day to be quite a compelling read. I had no desire whatsoever to quit reading at any point in the story. There is a plot to the story which includes a very intriguing object. I won't spoil the story by revealing what the object is but I will say I think it's something completely new to the whole vampire genre. If V-Day is developed into a novel length story, then this "object" has the potential to create plenty of tense drama. Cyma Rizwaan Khan may have created an object that could end up becoming part of future vampire lore. We'll just have to wait and see.(less)
One reviewer said Space Orville is like "Dr. Seuss meets Hitchhiker's Guide". Okay, I can see that. But I had a different thought as I went "fripping...moreOne reviewer said Space Orville is like "Dr. Seuss meets Hitchhiker's Guide". Okay, I can see that. But I had a different thought as I went "fripping and bizzling" my way through Space Orville's epic adventure: Monty Python meets John Lennon. I haven't read such imaginative and delightfully crazy word-play since John Lennon penned "John Lennon In His Own Write" and "A Spaniard In The Works". Part of what makes the humor work so well is exactly what made it work in the movie, "Airplane". In that movie, funny lines are delivered dead-pan. Remember, "And don't call me Shirley"? C'mon, you know you laughed when that line was delivered. In Whelan's wild world of Space Orville, words like "Weezle Bums" and "Irreplaceable Fog Napkin" and names like Miles O'Teeth and General DeKay are uttered in all seriousness which, of course, makes them so funny. I mean, really, this is serious business. A teenager is recruited to do nothing less than save the entire freakin' Universe, for crying out loud. And there are villains out there. Bad, nasty villains. You never know what they might do. For example, who wants to meet up with anyone named "Bizmo the Inconceivable"? Surely, that can't be good. And don't call me Shirley.
As I'm writing this review I'm realizing how impossible it is to convey just how wonderfully compelling this book really is. Everything I wrote in the above paragraph is true but because it's out of context it doesn't do justice to Whelan's genius. The brilliance of this book isn't just confined to the humor. Whelan's descriptive passages are works of genius in their own right, not to mention the imaginative details that make the world of Space Orville so "real" in spite of the absurdity of it all. Space Orville truly is a delightfully entertaining adventure. I can easily see it getting picked up by Pixar for their next big blockbuster animated film. Really, it's that good.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Don't read this book in public. I was reading it in the waiting room of Les Schwab while having new tires put on my car. I kept trying hold in the snickers and the chortles but they snorted out anyway. It was just plain embarrassing.(less)
A most worthy follow-up to the award-winning Secret of the Sands!
The opening sequences of Destiny of the Sands (Rai Aren & Tavius E. http://amzn.com/B00APLNA0G) places the reader smack dab into the middle of a mystery and plenty of action. The era is presumably sometime in the midst of World War II. The scene is a bombed out town somewhere in Africa.
[Thick smoke and dust billowed as a column of tanks and vehicles rolled into the ravaged town. Strewed amongst the debris were burnt bodies and twisted armored vehicles. The thunderous roars of the engines abruptly stopped. A VW Kubelwagen drove up to a building set up as the German headquarters for the area.] - Excerpt from Prologue-1.
The driver of the jeep is a Nazi Captain. The passenger is Dr. Wolfgang Reichmann, a civilian archaeologist. Their mission: to carry out Hitler's order to pry some specific information out of two men being held captive inside the building. A very unusual gold pendant had been in the possession of the two prisoners when they were apprehended. The pendant was engraved with strange symbols and it seemed to emit some sort of an electrical energy. As Dr. Reichmann and the Nazi Captain entered the building, the two prisoners were undergoing a severely tortuous interrogation by a relentless S.S. Officer.
Just as Dr. Reichmann was about to take over the investigation with a more civilized approach, the building was rocked by exploding bombs and artillery fire. Reichmann was thrown against a wall and knocked unconscious. When he came to, the building was in shambles with a gaping hole blown into the wall.
[A bright light shone onto Dr. Reichmann's face, partially blinding him as he regained consciousness. He coughed as he pushed himself up off of the floor. Shielding his eyes from the light , he tried to determine its source. The light was being reflected through a gaping hole in the wall, off something shiny in the field just outside the ruined headquarters. Whatever it was had been unearthed by the enemy bombardment.] - Excerpt from Prologue-1.
What was the strange object that was unearthed? Sorry, no spoilers. Let's just say it's mysterious, it's ancient, by all rights (according to modern archaeology) it shouldn't exist, it was the cause of murder, lies, deception and massive chaos for a Royal family and a race of people heretofore not known to have existed in the distant past, and now, in the present day, it's an object that certain people will do anything to get their hands on and others will do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening.
As with the first book in this series (Secret of the Sands), this epic sequel unfolds on two timelines, simultaneously. One timeline is the ancient past and the other is the present day, 18 months after the events that occurred in Secret of The Sands.
In Secret of the Sands, a small group of young archaeologists (PhD candidates) discovered something extraordinary during an excavation at the location of the Great Sphinx in Egypt, something that should have brought them world wide fame and which would have made it necessary to rewrite the history books. But, in the world of mainstream science, for a number of reasons, such extraordinary discoveries can be dangerous, not just to one's academic career but also to one's life. Again, sorry, no spoilers. Suffice to say these young students are in for a rather harrowing adventure. If you catch my drift.
But what led up to all this modern-day mystery, murder and mayhem? That part of the story is the other level of the saga that the reader is treated to, as it unfolds in ancient Egypt, in real time, during the ride through the pages of the book.
I was impressed by the author's skill at crafting a multi-timeline story. I felt there was a definite difference of tone for each timeline. I could "feel" the difference in an almost cinematic sense. I think part of that was due to the difference in the tone of the language. That, I thought, was quite artfully done. I often found myself so completely immersed in the scenes of the ancient timeline that I could just as well have been watching the events unfolding in living color on the "big screen" in a darkened theater.
By the way, again no spoilers, but I must say the ending not only took me by surprise, but it left me nodding my head and grinning. My immediate reaction was "Really? Oh, yes!" . Destiny of the Sands(less)
••• Fun! Absorbing! Grab your machete and get ready to cut your way into an adventure deep in the Amazon Jungle! •••
The old adage, "Seek and ye shall...more••• Fun! Absorbing! Grab your machete and get ready to cut your way into an adventure deep in the Amazon Jungle! •••
The old adage, "Seek and ye shall find", is all well and good. But ye would do well to be careful what ye seek.
Treasure hunter, Rick Braeden, is the seeker in this captivating jungle adventure. His quest? The fabled Lost City of Gold. Does it exist or doesn't it? And if it does, what secrets does it hold? A hundred other adventure seekers had attempted to find out over the years. But, in every case, they had failed. Some just gave up. Some died trying. And some just mysteriously disappeared, never to be heard from again.
Rick's trusty companion on this dangerous trek is Sergio, a Brazilian guide, a likeable fellow whose knowledge of the jungle, its hidden dangers and its dark secrets, is exactly what Rick is going to need. Trust me. And, as luck would have it, Sergio was the only guide willing to make the journey. That's a good thing. Right? Because, to quote from the back cover of the book:
"As he embarks on this potentially deadly expedition, something or someone deep in the jungle waits and watches."
I don't want to say too much about the details of this story for fear of spoiling some of the fun. I'll let you make the surprising discoveries along with Rick. I'll just say this is a good old-fashioned adventure filled with mystery, magic, a good twist and plenty of danger. How much danger? Well, I'll leave you with one of the thoughts that was going through Rick's head at a turning point in the story. It'll give you a bit of an idea of what he's been through:
He thought back to what Sergio had said about how many times he could cheat death. He didn't feel lucky.
So come on! Grab your machete and get ready to cut your way into a good old-fashioned adventure deep in the heart of the Amazon Jungle! ..................... Hey! Are you still here? Adventure calls! What are you waiting for?(less)
This is the second of Stipa's novels that I've read. His debut novel, "No Greater Sacrifice" remains one of my favorites in what I might loosely categ...moreThis is the second of Stipa's novels that I've read. His debut novel, "No Greater Sacrifice" remains one of my favorites in what I might loosely categorize as a "Dan-Brown-DaVinci-Code" type story... the type of story of which I'm a big fan, by the way. So, since I was already of fan of such stories, it wasn't a big surprise that I liked "Sacrifice" as much as I did (See my review). BUT... When I heard that his newest novel, The Foiled Knight, was an entirely different sort of story, I didn't know if I would like it as much, especially when I found out it was more along the line of a romance novel. Having never read such a book before, I was skeptical as to whether I would actually enjoy it. Ha! Enjoy it??? Oh yeah! All the clich�és apply: "Couldn't put it down!" "A real page-turner!" "I devoured it!" "Hated to see it end!" But, why? What was so good about it? That's what you really want to know. Right?
Well, one thing that comes to mind, since I just used the word "cliché", is that the writing is nearly devoid of clichés. A lot tired old phrases appear in the descriptive passages of many books. You know, like "limp as an old dish rag" or "hard as a rock". Sure, they work and we're so used to seeing or hearing such phrases that we get the point and move on without really giving it a passing thought. Stipa, on the other hand, has a gift for coming up with fresh, inventive and yet effective descriptive phrasing. As a writer, myself, I tend to notice things like that. Most readers probably won't notice and that's a good thing. A good writer doesn't really want his words to yank the reader out of the flow of the narrative. Quite the opposite. So maybe I shouldn't even have mentioned it. LOL! But I couldn't help myself. I was just so impressed by how well crafted the story is, overall.
Oh, and action? Yes, indeed. There are suspenseful moments and action scenes in the story that set my adrenaline into high gear. So much so that on the one hand I found myself wanting to speed read ahead because I couldn't wait to find out what happened. But I also didn't want to miss a single word of what I was reading. In other words, those scenes made for some pretty intense reading. It was great. I loved it.
But is it a romance novel? Well, yes and no. That is, it's not at all what I expected and, maybe, that was a large part of the appeal for me. You know. The surprise factor. I'd have to say it's a bit of a cross-genre.
Yes, there is definitely a romance element to the story but it's so much more than that, including mystery, murder, kidnapping, good guys and bad (really bad) guys and plenty of twists and turns to keep you turning the pages to figure out what's really going on. Stipa holds back just enough, at just the right moments, to keep you guessing. And then, when he reveals a little more, it often turns out to be not quite what you might have expected. The character development is very good and the overall story arc is well-conceived and deftly executed.
In closing, I have to say I did not want the story to end. I became (to my great surprise) so intimately absorbed into the lives, the trials, the tribulations, the joys, the heartbreaks, and just the sheer intriguing complexity of the lives of the two main characters, Stan Palmer and Tanya Davis, that I felt like they were friends I'd known for a long time. But when it did end, I simply sat back, shook my head, let out a long sigh and thought, "Whoa. What a ride." It was a lot like the visceral satisfaction of having just finishing a really outstanding meal. You know, where you reach for the napkin, dab the corners of your mouth, fold the napkin, lay it on the table, sit back the chair, smack your lips, nod your head approvingly and exclaim, "My compliments to the chef!"(less)
Just read The Tell-Tale Trunk. I was skeptical. I thought, how good could it be if it's just a modernized version of the Poe tale. Well... after I rea...moreJust read The Tell-Tale Trunk. I was skeptical. I thought, how good could it be if it's just a modernized version of the Poe tale. Well... after I read it, I just sat for a moment, perhaps a bit stunned. Stunned because "Brilliant" was the first word that came to mind upon finishing the tale. "Brilliant" was the last thing I expected to think about the work. But I was also a bit confused. Confused because I couldn't quite figure out what it was about the story that made me think it was "brilliant". I mean, "brilliant" is a pretty strong word, right? Finally, I think I've identified the aspect of it that brought "brilliant" to mind. I think maybe it was the author's seemingly odd choice to name certain items, the price of each item and where each item was purchased. That aspect made me grin each time it came up. Somehow it added an unexpected layer of dark humor to what would otherwise have been a pretty good, mildly entertaining reworking of the Poe tale. The brilliance, according to my experience of reading the story, came from how that odd little element was enough to ratchet my opinion of the story from mildly entertaining all the way up to "Brilliant". I know not everyone will agree with my opinion. Maybe it's like a certain type of joke where you either get it or you don't. I got it. :-)(less)